One of my favorite hunts this past season in 2016 was with my friend 76-year-old Mike Yacino. I've been taking him turkey hunting every year for some time down on my family’s land in Massachusetts. Last year was our sixth year that we’ve hunted together. Mike is slowing down some, so, getting to our favorite place to hunt turkeys located on the edge of a cornfield on top of a knoll takes somewhat longer.
This past season we built a small hut that we called “The Bear’s Den,” because Mike’s nickname is Bear. It was big enough, so I could sit in the hut with Mike and try to video him taking a turkey. He also could move around more and not have to sit as still as he would if we didn’t have the hut. Usually, we would take some coffee to drink while waiting on the turkeys. So, the hut solved a lot of problems that we would have if we didn’t hunt from the hut.
The hut is only a short walk from my family’s camphouse. As the sun started coming up, turkeys began to gobble their brains out. Since this was the first year we had hunted out of the hut, we quickly learned that trying to learn the direction the turkeys were gobbling from, and the distance we were from the turkeys was far more difficult than when we had hunted from outside the hut. When we first started hearing the turkeys, we thought they were a long ways off and across the road. We decided the turkeys must be henned-up, and our best chance to get a gobbler was to get out of the hut and go to the turkeys.
I got up and was just about to tap Mike on the shoulder to tell him we were going to move. But as I looked past Mike through the opening on the side of the hut, I saw two longbeards with their tail fans up and strutting not 15 feet from the hut, coming in hot and ready to breed. Those two turkeys were really putting on a show. They fought and twisted their heads together. I told Mike, “I think both of us can take a turkey this morning. I’ll count to three. You take the gobbler on the left, and I’ll take the gobbler on the right.” I'd tried to double-down on turkeys before with my dad, but I'd never had that strategy work out. We usually would get one turkey, and the other gobbler would spot us and run off. But I felt like these two gobblers were so close there was no way we could miss them. So, I whispered, “One, two, three.” We both shot, and both gobblers hit the ground.
As long as I live, I’ll never forget the huge smile on Mike’s face when I looked at him and said, “We did it.” Mike was out of the hut before I was. Two beautiful longbeards were on the ground not more than 15 yards from our hut. Both the birds looked to be 2-year olds. Mike’s turkey had a 7-1/2-inch beard, and the turkey I shot had a 9-inch beard. One of the birds weighed 21 pounds, and the other one weighed 18 pounds. Any 2-year-old or older gobbler is a trophy in Massachusetts in my book. But what’s more important, Mike and I made a turkey hunting memory that will last as long as we do.
Day 1: Cold Country Turkeys